Our Time Together at Chalk Hill


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Whenever I get to be in the Bay Area, it feels a bit like coming home. Having lived there for eight years, it’s not “home, home” but certainly a version thereof. It is familiar, and with the exception of the traffic, delightful. Highlights for me include old friends, what grows there, the quality of the light, the San Francisco Flower Market, and the food.

Many years ago I did flowers for a restaurant in Oakland called Oliveto. It was there that I became acquainted with Kaye and Richard Heafey the owners of Chalk Hill Clematis in Healdsburg. While working on a shoot for Garden Design Magazine I got my first look at their extraordinary place and returned several times thereafter. Some of the images from my book were shot there, and over the years I purchased as much of my flowers from them as I could. It’s one thing to have a flower farm, but it’s quite another to have the vision to create the kind of magical place that they have. Not anywhere do you find that beauty was sacrificed for function. The two go hand in hand seamlessly everywhere you look.

In addition to growing breathtakingly beautiful clematis, garden roses and foliage, they make their own award winning olive oil, aged balsamico and honey.

My goal for each of my workshops is to hold them in a place that feeds the senses on all levels. Chalk Hill did so, and more.

One of the highlights was being able to harvest much of what we used, the balance of the product coming from the San Francisco market. Think four foot arching canes of rambling roses, endless buckets of clematis, young olives on the branch. It’s no secret that gorgeous material like this arranges itself, and to be sure, each and everyone of the wonderful designers that accompanied me put out one arrangement more beautiful than the next.

I understood immediately that this experience would need to become an annual celebration. Everyone should be able to experience Chalk Hill in all it’s glory. Mid may of next year, we will do it again: May 20 to 22, 2014!

My deepest thanks to Kaye, Richard, and all you beauties who joined me there.

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Many thanks to Meg Smith for these beautiful photographs.